The Credit Mobility Initiative works to identify and support effective and equitable transfer of credits between and among all postsecondary education institutions, including CTE programs, community colleges and four-year institutions. The postsecondary ecosystem is challenged by a maze where students—and their credits, skills and credentials—often get stuck. Many states lack clear and equitable statewide articulation agreements that offer guidance to public institutions on determining course equivalency for credit transfers between institutions. Further, due to high stop-out rates, many of today’s students will attend multiple institutions after high school, start and stop their education at least once, and collect a virtual suitcase of skills and credentials across education providers, on-the-job training and self-taught learning.
In January 2021, ECMC Foundation launched the Catalyzing Transfer Initiative (CTI), which provided $4.5 million to five organizations working to increase successful transfer of postsecondary credits and timely bachelor’s degree completion through equity-centered projects. To help change the transfer landscape across the country, the CTI grantees, including American Association of Community Colleges, Education Commission of the States, Institute for Higher Education Policy, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, have engaged more than 100 institutions in 33 states.
Original Grantee Cohort
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)—Equity Transfer Initiative
AACC launched the Equity Transfer Initiative, a national effort aimed at supporting academic program transfer pathways between two- and four-year institutions. The goal is to strengthen partnerships between community colleges and four-year colleges to support transfer and align degree pathways to a bachelor’s degree for underrepresented students. Read the press release to view selected colleges and universities.
Education Commission of the States (ECS)—Identifying Opportunities in the Transfer Policy and Practice Reform Space
ECS conducted a landscape scan of national transfer reform efforts, priorities and outcomes and incorporated findings into the planning and early development of a National Transfer Network. The goal is to gain a stronger understanding of ongoing work in the field. This comprehensive review and analysis of historic and current transfer initiatives focuses on policy and practice improvements.
Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)—Transfer BOOST (Bachelor's Opportunity Options that are Straightforward and Transparent)
IHEP is reforming transfer pathways by partnering with Arizona, Illinois and Virginia to prioritize affordability and provide clear communications and commitments to improve cost and time-to-degree. The goal is to accelerate significant improvements in transfer and deliver affordable, equitable degree pathways for students.
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)—Transfer Policy Standards for Equitable Attainment
SHEEO is working with Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington to develop and adopt state- and system-wide transfer standards that contribute to equitable transfer outcomes and degree attainment. The goal is to engage college and system leaders and policymakers to develop and implement analytical tools and action plans that facilitate transfer student progression.
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)—Interstate Transfer Passport
WICHE is scaling the number of institutions that are members of the Interstate Passport Network, a national network of member institutions and states that accept block transfer of lower-division general education attainment based on student learning outcomes, rather than on specific courses and credits. WICHE has added 19 institutions to its network, 10 of which are minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and is now working on better engaging registrars, advisors and students to utilize the program. Looking ahead, WICHE also aims to specifically engage with more MSIs, including HBCUs and tribal colleges, as well as find new ways to ensure students enrolled throughout the 72 Passport member institutions can make informed choices about their transfer opportunities. As of academic year 2020-21, more than 70,000 students have earned Interstate Passports.
To help improve credit accumulation, the Foundation has also funded dual enrollment and early college programming. Additionally, we have supported projects that accelerate timely degree completion for students in CTE programs. These projects include the development of new articulation agreements, implementation of policies for prior learning, alignment of noncredit and credit programs, and the establishment of stackable credentials. ECMC Foundation currently has invested $7.5 million to support these efforts.
To ensure we are continuing to test and validate what has been learned to date, the Credit Mobility Initiative will work to identify effective and equitable transfer of credits between and among all postsecondary education institutions, including CTE programs, community colleges and four-year institutions. The Foundation will continue to invest in organizations, intermediaries and systems of higher education to help develop clearer and more equitable credit mobility policies and practices. The Foundation is working with Sova, a higher education consultancy, to align previous grants and investments with this initiative.